The Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia sandwichensis) numbers around 1,000 and nests, primarily, on the slopes of Haleakala on Maui. The nocturnal seabird can fly at speeds greater than 30 mph and their song is really more of a bark, often compared to a yapping, squealing puppy, giving rise to its Hawaiian name: ‘ua’u. Like many seabirds, this endangered petrel lays only one egg per year, which requires the care of both its mother and father for survival, and the pair returns to the same place year after year to nest.
Here’s the thing: Because there are relatively few; and because those relatively few are concentrated in one barren area high atop mountains; and because the birds are nocturnal, meaning, they come and go at night; and because they feed at sea; all this means you probably won’t see them flying overhead.
And, yet, this bird, also called a dark-rumped petrel, starts its nesting season in February, and is the very reason why the state of Hawaii transitioned to digital TV one month earlier than the rest of the country. (No doubt, you’ve seen the ads on TV and received notifications from your cable service provider about this.)
So, workers went in a month early and dismantled the old analog transmission towers; and, thereby, prevented the crushing of hundreds of ground burrows. New towers, then, went up at lower elevations, outside nesting areas.
I love that our state is doing the right thing to protect this bird. How cool is that?